David Tennant Downplays Chance of Doctor Who Return

“I’m retired! The Fourteenth Doctor is retired!”

David Tennant as the Doctor in Doctor Who
Photo: BBC/Disney+

Right after ‘why two pairs of shoes but only one pair of trousers?’ the question on everybody’s lips after Doctor Who’s surprise bi-generation was: if David’s Tennant’s new Doctor is still around during Ncuti Gatwa’s era, does that make this a job share? Will Fourteen be popping in to audience applause every other episode like a wacky neighbour on a 1970s sitcom?

According to David Tennant, speaking to Radio Times Magazine ahead of his Bafta-hosting gig, the answer’s no. “The door is not any more open than it ever was,” Tennant told the mag, as reported by RadioTimes.com. “It’s very much the end of the story.”

“The Doctor’s happy. He is in a garden in Chiswick, being made mac and cheese by Bonnie Langford!”

What sweeter fate could befall any man?

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For anybody who was second-screening 60th anniversary special “The Giggle”, Tennant’s referencing its final scene in which the Fourteenth Doctor enjoyed an al fresco family meal with Donna’s lot plus Langford’s Mel Bush, at their (or in the novelisation, his) home. Fourteen’s TARDIS is now just for Sunday jaunts and antiquing, while Tennant’s Doctor recovers from several lifetimes of trauma in the bosom of the Noble family.

As discussed here, having Fourteen hover around the edge of Fifteen’s stories would doubtless undermine their peril. And perhaps as importantly, Tennant’s new Doctor returning to the fray instead of taking the mac-and-cheese-based therapeutic rest prescribed for him by Fifteen would undermine Doctor Who’s symbolic new start as a show. Fourteen’s retirement was a way to draw a line under the Doctor’s pain and send Fifteen on the path to freedom and adventure.

Drawn by Radio Times by the hypothetical question of what Fourteen would do if Earth were invaded while Fifteen was busy on another planet, Tennant protested:

“You could also say, ‘Why has Patrick Troughton not landed here?!’ It unpicks if you think about that too much. I’m retired! The Fourteenth Doctor is retired!”

Absolutely. But seeing as in the world of Doctor Who rumour management, a ‘maybe’ tends to be a ‘no’; a ‘no’ a ‘yes’; and a yes… well, yeses only arrive three months after a leak when everybody has to act shocked, we know better than to take Tennant entirely at his word. Especially when his word also includes such get-out-clauses as:

“In Doctor Who if you want to bring someone back, there are endless ways of doing it.”

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So to sum up, the Fourteenth Doctor is retired, but if he does ever vworp in to save the day, act surprised.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney+ around the world.